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The Selfish Neither Thrive or Survive

A king piece in chess, with three pawns.Image via Wikipedia

After the game, the king and pawn go into the same box.

There's an important lesson there. Though that Italian Proverb has been around for a long time, it speaks to team life in today's workplace. If you want to be a contributing member of a successful team, you have to put others on the team ahead of yourself. You have to see the good of the team as more important than your own short-term success. How are you when it comes to taking a backseat to others? If someone else gets credit for work well done, does it bother you? If you get bumped from the "starting lineup" of the team, do you pout?

Try this:

  • Are there successful teams in your company? If so, ask to sit in on one of their meetings. What do you see them doing that you can immediately apply to your own team? Talk with some of their team members. Ask them what practices have led to the team's success.
  • Make a list of the three most important elements you took away from those conversations. Bring your team together and begin a conversation about how you might change the way you all work together.

Highly functioning teamwork is important. It can also be a matter of survival. Remember the movie, "March of the Penguins." If emperor penguins in Antarctica don't work together as a team, they die. Period. Thousands of male penguins huddle together, providing each other enough warmth to last through the most brutal subfreezing weather. They take turns walking around the outside of the huddle while those in the middle sleep.

Teamwork means survival, and the selfish don't survive.

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